Rebus 1,2,3

Knots an Crosses – Rebus Book 1

After a brutal abduction and murder of two young girls a third is missing, presumably gone to the same sad end. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, his own young daughter spirited away south by his disenchanted wife, is one of many policemen hunting the killer. And then the messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses – taunting Rebus with pieces of a puzzle only he can solve.

My thoughts: I enjoyed all the extra information for readers in this novel and Rankin is right when he says that Knots and Crosses is more of a historical text now. For a first novel it is easy to see what a great writer Rankin is. I barely noticed the lack of police-specific information that he alluded to in the introduction. He just wrote a cracking story! There were only two things that gave away the fact Rankin was quite young when he wrote this book: firstly Rebus seems a lot older than his 40-odd years. Maybe to someone mid-twenties this is how a 40 year old would act! Secondly, one of Rebus’ co-workers comments on hanging in until retirement – he’s only 35!

Overall: I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a fantastic debut and it didn’t seem dated.


Hide and Seek – Rebus Book 2

A junkie lies dead in an Edinburgh squat, spreadeagled, cross-like on the floor, between two burned-down candles, a five-pointed star daubed on the wall above. Just another dead addict – until John Rebus begins to chip away at the indifference, treachery, deceit and sleaze that lurks behind the facade of the Edinburgh familiar to tourists.

My thoughts: The content of drugs and associated vices is still a contemporary issue so I wondered if this novel caused some controversy upon publication. Maybe not as social issues (as with property prices) don’t change. I enjoyed Rebus’ co-workers in this novel, particularly Holmes as he brought some wry humour to the plot. Edinburgh is its own character and the distance between London and Scotland is more than geographical.

Overall: Still achingly contemporary. How does Rankin do it?


Tooth and Nail – Rebus Book 3

They call him the Wolfman – because he takes a bite out of his victims and because they found the first victim in the East End’s lonely Wolf Street. Scotland Yard are anxious to find the killer and Inspector Rebus is drafted in to help. But his Scotland Yard opposite number, George Flight, isn’t happy at yet more interference, and Rebus finds himself dealing with racial prejudice as well as the predations of a violent maniac. 

My thoughts: At last, a good old fashioned serial killer story. I loved Rebus’ observations of London and its inhabitants – all new comers to London must notice this so it was a nice trip down memory lane in some respects. It’s almost a shame this is the only time Rebus is forced to travel south.

Overall: Now the series is really hotting up. Can’t wait to read more!


Four observations:

In each novel the staff Rebus works with change. There is is little continuity yet it doesn’t feel like you are missing pieces of the puzzle. What a talented writer Rankin is to be able to introduce a new cast each novel and make it feel familiar and safe.

Rebus does seem a lot older than his 40 years in all three novels yet this does not bother me.

It is unusual to have a crime lead interested in religion and the battle of good vs evil. I’m enjoying this element.

I am also enjoying the reading group questions and extra essays in each novel. Thank you Orion!



Leap Year Book Challenge 2016


I stumbled across this meme on Brona’s Books who explains:

Four years ago today I came upon this little book meme doing the rounds on facebook. I decided to re-jig the idea for the 2016 leap year.
I hope you can join me.

I think Brona has been secretly waiting 4 years to do this meme again 🙂

Leap Year babies will tell you how special it is to be born on the 29th February.
To celebrate a once in 4 year event – go to page 29 of the book you’re reading right now and copy the first sentence onto your blog or into Brona’s comments section

I am currently reading Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin, the 3rd Inspector Rebus adventure. Page 29 describes a rather grisly autopsy. I’ve had to search hard to find a quote that won’t offend people’s sensibilities as they have a lazy scroll through the WordPress reader:

Well, thought Rebus, so far they could strike the mortuary assistant and one of the photographers off the possible list of suspects: everyone else in the room was five feet eight or over.

tooth and nail


An Intelligent Crime Novel: Saints of the Shadow Bible

Saints of the Shadow BibleSaints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin

When a young woman is found unconscious at the wheel of her car, evidence at the scene suggests this was no ordinary crash. Meanwhile, John Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a big demotion and an even larger chip on his shoulder. A thirty-year-old case is being reopened, with Rebus and his team from back then suspected of corruption and worse. With political turmoil threatening to envelop Scotland, who really are the saints and who the sinners?

First Impressions: I didn’t know what to expect with this being book 19 in the Rebus series. Had missed too much? Was it a poor choice to start with as Rebus is being resurrected from retirement? Fans are divided between thinking Rebus is better than ever and that he should have remained tinkering in his shed and visiting National Trust sites. Anyway, the opening chapters read like a good crime novel to me so I was satisfied.

Highlights: I can see why the Rebus books are so popular. Rankin has created multi-layered intelligent crimes in this novel. It’s a good dense story stretching as far as the Scottish Independence campaigns. Of all the elements Rebus investigates I preferred the car crash as it is more your police procedural. It usually takes a couple of novels for me to fully get the measure of the main detective’s character and this is the same for Rebus. However, the epilogue slots a lot into place and it inspires me to read through the back catalogue and learn more about him. I found the epilogue slightly surprising in a good way – Rebus rocketed up in my esteem.

If I was an editor: The Shadow Bible itself I found a less appealing story strand and I predicted the outcome. Was it realistic Rebus was cornered into helping with the investigation? I don’t know.

Overall: A good introduction to the series.